Do the stone lions of the Chain Bridge in Budapest have a tongue?

You’ll have to read this blog to find out the answer if you haven’t heard of it.

Just as bridges connect land and cities, the Hungarian Hub connects Hungarians in America with Hungarians in Hungary. That’s where I got the idea to show you bridges today, using photos by my American friend Franklin Ames, who loves Budapest, the capital of Hungary. Bridges of Budapest also inspire photographers, a popular subject at sunrise, sunset, with trams and parliament with Citadel in the background. Last time we went on a Budapest walking tour, which you can read HERE.

The bridge that has become a national symbol

The Danube divides Budapest into several parts. The districts are connected by 13 road and 2 rail bridges over the river. Budapest’s view of the Danube has been a World Heritage Site since 1987. Today, from a tourist point of view, Chain Bridge is considered one of the most photographed engineering works in the world. Two Clark’s contributed to the construction of the bridge, which has become a national symbol. English architect William Tierney Clark designed it in the neoclassical style, in keeping with the fashion of the time. The Scottish-born Adam Clark was in charge of the construction. The two men were not related by any family ties. Adam Clark settled in Budapest, and the square between the tunnel and the Chain Bridge (Adam Clark Square) is named after him, where a statue of Miklós Borsos marks the location of the zero kilometre marker.

The Chain Bridge is the first permanent bridge between Pest and Buda and the first bridge over the Danube. Built between 1839 and 1849, it takes its full name from Count István Széchenyi, one of its main supporters, who was known as the “greatest Hungarian”. Initially, everyone had to pay to cross, even the nobility. The fee was abolished in 1918. The Chain Bridge has undergone renovation, much of it destroyed in World War II, a good three decades after the rebuilding of the blown-up bridge, which took place between 1986-88, and most recently started in the spring of 2021, and is expected to last until autumn 2023. In a strange twist of fate, Széchenyi never crossed the bridge once. Nor was he present at the ceremony, as he had previously been committed to the Döbling mental hospital near Vienna. Since 1850, the stone lions of János Marschalkó, a sculptor from Lőcsa, have stood guard at the bridge’s driveways. It is a misconception that lions have no tongue. So the right answer to the title question is that they do have a tongue, but they are not visible from below, from the level of the pavement.

Bridge named after the Emperor

The opening of the 11,170-tonne bridge named after Queen Elizabeth on 10 October 1903 was a world sensation. Without a pier in between, it arched across the Danube as a kind of suspension bridge with a single 290-metre-long opening. This engineering feat was unique in the world for 20 years. When it was built, it transformed the city centre of Pest, and half the world was amazed. Almost completely destroyed in World War 2, it has recently been decorated with decorative lighting. Trams used to run on both the original and the rebuilt Elizabeth Bridge, but in 1975 trams stopped running on the bridge because the trams caused the bridge’s plates to crack.

The bridge they used to nickname

The Liberty Bridge was originally built as part of the Millennium World Expo in the late 19th century. The Art Nouveau style bridge was rebuilt first after it had been severely damaged during the Second World War. It was also painted in a bluish-grey colour because there was no green paint available, so it could not be painted the original colour. At the inauguration on 4 October 1896, Franz Joseph himself inserted the last silver rivet into the 20-metre wide bridge named after him, which at 333 metres long became the shortest crossing in Budapest. The bridge, which will be 125 years old in 2021, is now a major tourist attraction and is considered a new symbol of Budapest. The tops of all its pillars are decorated with turul, the mystical Hungarian mythological birds. They and the other ornaments, the railing, the coat of arms above the gates and even the trams passing over it are popular with tourists taking pictures.

From 2017, a civic initiative will transform the bridge into a creative community space for pedestrians and cyclists for four weekends every summer, making it one of the most popular free and colourful leisure activities in Budapest in summer. The predecessor of the “Free Bridge” has become a spontaneously organised community meeting place on the bridge, which was closed for renovation in summer 2016.  If you are interested, you can check it:

Picnic on the closed bridge.

Free Bridge – Bridge of Freedom.

Put yourself to the test! A GAME ABOUT THE BRIDGES OF BUDAPEST.

Photos by Franklin Ames (check his pictures)



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Daytona Beach, FL 32114

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Daytona Beach, FL 32114

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